Keto and Low Carb Success

What's the Story with Protein?

March 02, 2023 Miriam Hatoum Season 2 Episode 39
Keto and Low Carb Success
What's the Story with Protein?
Show Notes Transcript

Episode #39:  What's the story with protein?

There is so much swirling around about how much protein to eat - whether you are following Keto or Low Carb. In this episode I will  give you some ideas on calculating protein need, but mostly I let you know that you are not a computer and to just EAT, with some advice about how much and what!

1:35     What's the story with protein?
3:03     Let’s start with the fact that Protein is an essential nutrient
3:47     You may have heard of Gluconeogenesis in your Keto Social Media travels
5:02     Before we go on, I want to mention Keto Metrics
5:41     The "New Face" of Keto
6:21     There are three ways to calculate your protein needs
8:00     There is, however, an easy way to figure protein needs
9:15     All that being said.... There is even an easier way
9:43     What does this look like?
10:35   "Incidental Protein"
11:10    When starting out
12:01    War of the Grams: Weighing your protein
12: 57   Listen to your body
15:49    Planning your meals and snacks
18:00   I want to talk here briefly about the carnivore way of doing Keto
19:29   Animal Protein
21:18    Some people fear kidney damage with so much protein
23:04   Remember these two concepts
23:36   We talked last week about Yo-Yo dieting. Getting enough protein is one sure way to stop that trend.
24:22   Actionable Coaching Advice
25:25  Recipe for chicken salad
27:33.  Episode 40 coming up next

Book: Breaking Free From Diet Prison
Course: Keto and Low Carb Success
Free 35-page Keto and Low Carb Success Planner


Prominent Study on Kidney Damage
Jason Fung

Get all my free guides
Take a look at this great course
Join me on Facebook
Follow me on Instagram
Check out Pinterest
And don't forget my book!

Episode #39 What’s the Story with Protein?

You’re listening to the Keto and Low Carb Success podcast, Episode #39, What’s the Story with Protein?  


Enjoy Keto and Low Carb success by becoming aware of what foods work best in your body and why. Master your mindset to make the journey an easy one. Learn all this, and more, with this podcast based on my trademarked Granny Keto Transitions Program. Join me, Miriam Hatoum, health coach, course creator and author of Conquer Cravings with Keto, as I give you actionable coaching advice with each episode that is sure to empower you and take any confusion out of following a Keto or Low Carb diet. It’s like being a private coaching client while you listen at your convenience!

But before we start, I wanted to offer my free gift to you for just for taking a peek at my course, Roadmap to Keto and Low Carb Success. No obligation – just take a peek! At the bottom of the page you will find a spot to put in your name and email address and like magic, my 35-page Keto and Low Carb Planner will appear in your in-box! The feedback on this Planner has been fabulous and it is yours free for just taking a look over at The direct link will be in the show notes and transcript.

1:35     And now to the episode, What’s the Story with Protein? 

One of the most debated questions with Keto is "How much protein should I eat?” There is very little debate that you must keep your carbohydrates low and eat fat to satiety in both Keto and Low Carb, but what do you do about protein?

  • Please understand that with either way of eating, that you are not going to be eating unlimited amounts of protein. 
  • Be smart when planning protein for meals and snacks. 
  • Even when eating the carnivore diet which is animal products only, you will still be listening to your hunger signals. 
  • Protein triggers feedback on satiety more efficiently than carbohydrates. 
  • Pay attention and you will not be having “all-you-can-eat” quantities of meat.

Up to now, no organization has established a firm upper limit on what might constitute "too much" protein in a person’s diet. 

In a healthy individual, the body will safely rid itself of unneeded protein. 

Also, the older you are the more protein you need to consume because your body does not as efficiently process protein as it did when you were younger.

3:03    Let’s start with the fact that Protein is an essential nutrient

  • Proteins are the building blocks of cells and muscles
  • They are essential for brain function and other functions, such as healing cuts and wounds.  
  • The body will recycle much of its protein and you do not need to consume large quantities to have a healthy body. 
  • Even though scientists do not fully understand the process, human cells break down excess or unusable proteins into amino acids they can use. 
  • This is referred to as recycling protein or protein turnover. 

3:47    You may have heard of Gluconeogenesis in your Keto Social Media travels

  • By a process called gluconeogenesis, in which the liver can convert amino acids (from protein) into glucose, the liver may produce a little too much glucose, which could impact insulin. 
  • This, however, is usually not a supply-driven process. 
  • It is mostly a demand-driven process, meaning that it doesn't automatically happen if you eat a lot of protein. 
  • It happens if and when your body needs glucose. 
  • The issue of the liver converting protein into excessive glucose as a supply-driven process tends to happen more in people with very severe insulin resistance or difficult-to-control diabetes.   

(An interesting side-fact about consuming too much protein: If you tend to eat a lot of protein that protein contains a lot of phosphorus which is a stimulant. As a result, you will find you might not sleep well after a heavy protein dinner!) 

5:02    Before we go on, I want to mention Keto Metrics

  • When you are beginning keto or low carb eating, the only metric you have to pay attention to is your carbohydrate count. 
  • However, if you want to follow keto you will see a lot of references to your macros.  
  • Macro is an abbreviation for macronutrient, referring to carbohydrates, proteins or fats. 
  • When you hear the term macro in a keto discussion, that refers to the grams you are allowed for each category. 

5:41     The "New Face" of Keto

  • Although it is important to be informed about what you are reading, I do not agree with the extremely low protein allotment that most keto sites suggest. 
  • There is what I like to call "the new face of keto" that is popping up among researchers and social media influencers. 
  • The new wisdom is to do just what I am telling you here: Do not fear protein and certainly do not severely moderate it, and the older you are, the more you need to add to your diet.

6:21     There are three ways to calculate your protein needs

  • One simple (and older, but prevalent) calculation for keto-protein allotment is 45.5 grams per 5’ of height, then every inch over 5’ multiply by 2.3 and add it to 45.5. 

There are other formulas that may include: 

  •  body mass (BMI) 
  • basal metabolic rate (BMR)
  •  total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).
  •  There are abundant resources for these formulas on the web and I do not include them here. Each one tries to answer the question: How much protein for keto?
  • If you are young, an athlete and not metabolically challenged in any way, you can have more than whatever that calculation is.  

You may want to work within that calculated number and pay close attention to the “incidental” protein that I talk about below if you 

  • are not losing weight
  •  are not getting into ketosis 
  • have conditions such as fatty liver disease
  •  are severely insulin resistant
  •  have type 2 diabetes, or
  •  have other metabolic issues

 8:00   There is, however, an easy way to figure protein needs

  • The protein allotment that I prefer and have suggested to my clients since being in practice, is one that is more realistic (and backed by research), which is 1.2 to 1.7 grams per kilogram of “reference” body weight. 
  • The reference weight is not your goal weight necessarily, but what is an average weight for your height. 
  • For instance, I am 5’4” and my “reference” body weight is approximately 140 pounds (64 kg). 
  • I got this by using a standard BMI chart, looking up my height and then picking the number that falls at the high end of a “normal” BMI, which is 24. (We can split hairs here: normal is up to 24.9 but then the math gets too hard!) 
  • My protein allowance falls between 76.8 to 108.8 grams of consumed protein (not grams of weight).

9:15     All that being said.... There is even an easier way 

  • In my practice I find that women settle in nicely at least 100 grams of protein.
  • Men do well with 125-150 grams of protein.
  • The older you are, the less efficiently protein is used, so don't skimp on protein - it is always better to go a little over.

9:43    What does this look like?


  • When you start out, you will probably be eating three meals a day. 
  • I recommend STRONGLY that you limit yourself to three adequate meals that cut out any need for snacking. 
  • Start with that and arrange your protein grams accordingly.  
  • The best way to approach this is to split your protein fairly evenly between these three meals. 
  • Dividing your day into three meals, comes out to about 30 grams of protein per meal. 
  • This is main-course protein.

10:35   "Incidental Protein"
You will also be eating “incidental” protein in 

  • vegetables
  •  coffee cream
  •  cheese
  •  nuts and seeds 

The biggest “struggle” is just mindfulness.

Pay attention to what you eat and learn protein counts of food.  

11:10    When starting out

  • I know I promised you an escape route out of diet prison, but do begin by counting "macros" just to get things in line.
  • I looked things up when I started, and I was so surprised to find that fish and shellfish and other lean protein pack a lot of protein into each serving size. 
  • As long as you are eating good quality protein, don’t worry too much about that. 
  • It is unlikely that a woman is going to overeat protein (in fact, most women are not getting enough!) 
  • Please don’t have to run back and forth to your food scale to shave off an ounce of something. 
  • You need to make this a lifestyle and not a diet!

12:01    War of the Grams: Weighing your protein

  • The term “grams of protein” means the number of grams of protein that is in a food, not the weight of the food in grams.  
  • For example, three ounces of ground chuck, cooked, weighs 85 grams and contains 22 grams of protein. 
  • The same three ounces (85g) of cooked bacon, contains 9 grams of protein.  
  • This is a question that comes up frequently when people are new to Keto.  
  • Not to worry – just make sure you are measuring the correct thing! 
  • To measure how much protein you “should” be eating, there are various calculations and formulas that I mentioned.  

12: 57  Listen to your body

Human beings are not machines, and calculators should not rule your life. 

  • Eat good quality protein.
  • Pay attention to your hunger signals. 
  • Remember, do not fear protein. 
  • If you are still afraid of protein after all you have read on social media, and want to avoid overeating, engage in sequential eating as coined by Dr. Robert Cywes. 

Some people call this putting in a speed bump. 

  • Take what you feel is an adequate portion of food and divide it onto two plates. 
  • Put the plate in front of you that you are going to eat and put the other plate either in the middle of the table or on a kitchen counter. 
  • Finish what is in front of you, then see if you want the rest.
  •  Other mindfulness practices that will help you listen to your body are just slowing down and tuning into your hunger scale.

Do not take 3 ounces of protein (the standard “deck-of-cards” or “palm-of-your-hand” sized portion) and divide that. 

Take something substantially more to start. If you are still hungry and want to eat more, EAT MORE!!! 

Choose protein sources where the fat is part of the protein such as 

  • chicken thighs with the skin
  •  egg yolks (not just the whites) 
  • steak that is marbled or has the fat layer around it, like a good ribeye. 
  • These choices will automatically align protein and fat recommendations and will keep you full longer on less food!

Don’t make yourself crazy with macros but rather, really begin to listen to your body. 

Again, pick protein options that come packaged with their own fat 

  • marbled and higher fat meats
  •  chicken legs with the skin on
  •  full fat dairy
  •  oily fish like salmon and sardines, etc. 
  • You will find your sweet spot with protein.
  • Just a little more than some might recommend for Keto might make you feel better, energy-wise and digestion-wise. 
  • This might make the difference between being successful or not. 

You need to make this a lifestyle and not a diet. As with carbohydrates, once you have an awareness of what you are eating you can let go of the tracking and break free from diet prison. Use your hunger scale to determine how much protein for keto you need.

15:49   Planning your meals and snacks

Planning Dinner

  • Take your elements in this order: protein, fat and carbohydrate. 
  • Decide on a protein choice: Meat, chicken or fish. 
  • Assess the fat content. 
  • If you are making short ribs, for instance, or having chicken thighs with skin, you might be all set for the fat that accompanies the protein. 
  • If you are eating something lean, make sure to enhance it with butter or cream sauce or prepare it in a nice avocado or olive oil. 
  • For instance, when I am making a skinless cut of chicken, I might put mayonnaise on it when I bake it or bake it in a cream sauce.

Planning Snacks

  • It is important to pick filling food choices that include protein and fat, otherwise, you might be hungry almost immediately.
  • As you are progressing through keto you might find that you are not hungry at all for snacks.
  • In Episode 42 coming up I will be talking to you about thinking outside the box. But for now, see my blogs on breakfast ideas and lunch ideas to get great suggestions for things that would work for Keto snacks. Links to both blogs are in the show notes and transcript.
  • For low carbohydrate programs, a candy bar or popcorn might be nice treats if you can fit them in to your carbohydrate allowance, but they raise insulin, and you will get hungry sooner. 
  • Also, for low carbohydrate plans, when you are planning snacks for the week, try not to include high starch or sugary items more than once or twice.

18:00  I want to talk here briefly about the carnivore way of doing Keto

  • Carnivore is eating only animal products and fat. 
  • There are no plant products at all (except, usually, olives, olive oil, avocados and avocado oil and maybe some nuts). 
  • People who follow this way of eating do not count anything – they just eat and enjoy! But they do listen to their hunger scale.
  • Eating the fat and protein is self-limiting when you tune in to your hunger cues. 

There are people who have found tremendous health benefits eating this way.  I am not looking to defend or deny the virtues of the carnivore way of eating Keto, but there are a few questions that often come up in a carnivore discussion:  

  • Will I become constipated? 
  • Do I risk kidney damage? 
  • Am I getting enough vitamins? 
  • The short answers are NO, NO and YES, respectively. 
  • The full answers to these, and other questions, are in Chapter 11, Questions and Dispelling Myths, in my book, Conquer Cravings with Keto. The book is available at and there is a direct link in the show notes and transcript.

19:29   Animal Protein

Many foods are sources of protein. These include nuts, dairy and some vegetables. 

But here is a list of animal proteins that are complete and filling sources for you to use in planning your meals, and you don't have to be carnivore to enjoy them!

  • Beef (all cuts)
  • Beef deli meats (but check for the carb counts — some may be high if there is added sugar or fillers)
  • Pork (all cuts)
  • Pork deli meats (but check carb counts — some may be high if there is added sugar or fillers)
  • Beef and Pork "snack" items such as:
    • Pork rinds/skins
    • Pepperoni slices
    • Bacon (sugar used in the curing process will burn off but do not have sugared bacon such as maple-flavored; just buy plain)
  • Lamb
  • Veal
  • Other meats such as venison
  • Chicken (preferably dark meat with skin)
  • Turkey (preferably dark meat with skin)
  • Duck
  • Eggs (any kind)
  • All Fish
  • All Shellfish

21:18    Some people fear kidney damage with so much protein

One last thing before we leave the topic of protein. I often get asked - even for regular keto, not even carnivore, is, "Do I risk kidney damage?"  

  • There is strong research that disproves that eating protein above the recommended daily allowance damages kidney function.
  • It was thought that excess protein causes kidney disease, but about 20 years ago that was disproven.
  • If you have healthy kidneys, they will be able to handle the nitrogenous waste of protein.
  • It is at stages 3 to 5 of kidney disease that you do have to be concerned about too much protein.
  • Protein itself will not cause kidney disease.
  • Jason Fung uses a wonderful analogy using a sieve and blueberries
    • The sieve is your kidneys.
    • The blueberries is the protein.
    • If your sieve has no holes, it will hold the blueberries and the water will wash right over them and drain through the sieve.
    • If you have holes in the netting, then the blueberries will fall through.
    • It is not the blueberries that damage the sieve.
    • It is the already-damaged sieve that is the problem.

The  prominent study he refers to, is in the show notes and transcript. I also encourage you to listen to the short-lived “Obesity Podcast” with Jason Fung and Megan Ramos, hosted by Carl Franklin. In Episode 10 he specifically talks about the connection between protein and the kidneys.

23:04  Remember these two concepts

Remember these two concepts when choosing how much protein to eat: 

(1) We are not machines and must eat according to what makes us feel best. For some, it might be a little more protein and a little less fat than a standard macro calculation would have you eating. 

(2) DO NOT FEAR protein. Gluconeogenesis is almost always a demand-driven process and not a supply-driven process.

23:36  We talked last week about Yo-Yo dieting. Getting enough protein is one sure way to stop that trend.

Remember that protein is an essential nutrient and the older you are, the more you need because the body does not process this nutrient as efficiently as it did in younger days. 

Listen to your body. There is a natural feedback loop with protein and fat. If you truly listen to your body, you will not be overeating this nutrient. It will become easier and easier to answer the question: How much protein should I be eating? You are in charge. Your body is in charge. Listen!

24:22  Actionable Coaching Advice

Have you downloaded your free copy of the Keto and Low Carb Planner yet? Today’s coaching homework is on Page 11. 

Now that we have talked a bit about protein requirements and how to plan it for meals and snacks, open Page 11 and write in at least 3 days of protein plans. A great way to do this – to start – is to take a look at what you already have in your freezer and fridge. Do you have chicken to use up? Cheese that is just sitting there? Hamburger that is already shaped into burgers or in a block that you can fry up for a recipe? Right now eggs are at their pinnacle of pricing, but if you have some, make some deviled eggs for a snack or egg salad for lunch. And going back to that chicken – when is the last time you made a great chicken salad? 

(25:25: Recipe for chicken salad: Make a small dice of several crunchy vegetables like onions, carrots, celery, bell peppers, radishes. If your carbohydrates allow add sliced grapes and chopped nuts. Mix (with or without mayo) and serve either on top of lettuce, or chop lettuce and add to the chicken mixture.)

Your assignment this week is to have ample protein for every meal, and also for snacks (although the further you are into Keto and Low Carb eating, the less you will need to snack because protein and fat keeps you fuller so much longer than a carb snack would). 

Whether doing Keto or Low Carb don’t worry right now about too much protein. And, especially, if you are an older woman, that is not going to be a problem for you. I know many extremely successful Keto women whose weight loss stalled, and as soon as they cut back on fat a little bit and instead ate a little more protein, their weight loss immediately started again. 

Now, let me remind you. If you’ve ever got a question you’d like to ask me or share a topic idea that you would like me to cover on a future episode, don’t be a stranger! I always look forward to hearing from listeners like you. You are welcome to email me directly…

27:33  Coming up in the next episode I will be talking all about Fruit. 

So go share the show with your friends, let them know that’s coming up in the next episode, and invite them to tune in with you and learn how to become free from diet prison with my Keto and Low Carb Success podcast.

Until then, go live free from diet worry — I’ll see you back here next time.

Book: Breaking Free From Diet Prison
Course: Keto and Low Carb Success
Free 35-page Keto and Low Carb Success Planner

Prominent Study on Kidney Damage
Jason Fung